Has Instagram Ruined Skateboarding?
Once upon a time, companies would release a video every few years. Lakai’s Fully Flared, for example, took around four years of filming, and when it came out, minds were blown. Guy Mariano made his triumphant return to skateboarding, and Mike Mo made a name for himself by re-writing the script on technical ledge tricks.
It was a momentous video with years of anticipation behind it.
If you follow even a handful of skateboarding accounts on Instagram, you’ll most likely see an NBD every single day that’s on par with those dropped in Fully Flared - except this time, it’s by someone you’ve never even heard of.
Skaters like Hyun Kummer, Skate Moss, Jamie Griffin and Dylan Jaeb have cultivated a following larger than most professionals simply by being effective on Instagram.
Though, if we’re being honest, “fucked” is a harsh word in this context.
Instagram has done some great things for skateboarders. It’s given them unprecedented levels of exposure, to the point that someone like Jamie Griffin, whose Instagram was mostly comprised of skating his backyard or on carpet, can get the visibility they deserve and begin becoming sponsored.
Instagram has also exponentially accelerated the evolution of skateboarding. Skaters no longer have to wait several years to see what the top pro’s are doing, they can simply scroll through their Insta feed for inspiration. A 360 flip crooked grind used to be a big enough hammer that it would land you a lead role in a movie (Just kidding P-Rod, we know you’ve done a lot more than just the NAC), but now, it’s a warmup trick for people to drop on their Insta before getting to their REAL tricks.
The video-sharing platform has made skating more transactional, more of a brief, repetitive dopamine hit than a narrative of progression. It’s become easy to get stoke-fatigued to the point that tricks hardly even have an impact on you beyond the span of five minutes.
Prior to the gram, each video part from Andrew Reynolds had serious weight behind it. You knew Reynold’s bag of tricks, you knew what monstrous gap he’d thrown them down in his prior video parts, and you’d watch with an open jaw when he inevitably took his lofty frontside flip down an even bigger set than the last time.
Similarly, Alex Olson recently spoke in his ‘Out There’ video for Thrasher about the time Chris Roberts gave him a video that had all of the latest pro’s parts on it, and how impactful that was in shaping his skating career.
Will kids today have that same experience with Instagram? Will someone say “I saw this random dude do a switch flip back tail switch varial heel out on Insta and it really shaped how I skate today…”?
It’s hard to imagine, but maybe they will. Do I sound old? Maybe I am. “Back in my day…”
Technology is an ever-evolving medium, and it will continue to shape the way we view and interact with the world. It’s a double-edged sword. Instagram is a double-edged sword. Though really, while the industry may change in new and sometimes unsatisfying ways, the personal act of skateboarding will never change.